Winner ought not take all
When the Seattle School District took its defense of using race in school assignments to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, this page...
When the Seattle School District took its defense of using race in school assignments to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, this page opposed the move.
We agreed with the district's goal of maintaining diverse schools even in segregated areas of the city. Offering students in the neglected South End opportunities to attend better schools in the north was also sound policy. But in our view, the better method was investment in the struggling schools, not in a protracted legal fight. The U.S. Supreme Court's 5-4 ruling last winter outlawed the racial tiebreaker. As we predicted, the judgment came at a high cost, $435,000 in legal fees and growing racial isolation in some, mostly South End, schools.
Seattle law firm Davis Wright Tremaine represented pro bono the dozen or so mostly white Magnolia and Queen Anne families suing the district. The families pay nothing. But the district is facing a $1.8 million bill from the law firm. Insurance may pay for part or none of the legal bill.
As before, there is a better solution.
Davis Wright Tremaine is within its legal rights to demand attorney fees for the seven-year legal battle. This doesn't contradict the legal sensibility of pro bono publico since defeating the racial tiebreaker was a goal held by some to be for the public's good.
Yet, the law firm risks serious erosion of its corporate goodwill. Seattle is a city heavily invested in education. Our public schools are struggling. Further harm ought to be avoided.
The matter goes before a judge at the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Judicial temperament ought to rein in the legal fees. Somewhere between the costs of photocopying and billable hours lies a figure both sides can live with.
Also, Davis Wright Tremaine has not ruled out donating the money.
It's a perfect opportunity for the Alliance for Education, the district's foundation and the repository of corporate investment in the schools, to step up. The Alliance and Davis Wright Tremaine could work out a donor solution that ensures money taken from the classrooms somehow makes its way back.
Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company
When vice president of Sub Pop Records Megan Jasper isn't running things at the office, she's working in her garden at her West Seattle home where she and her husband Brian spend time relaxing.
I've been fortunate to have traveled the world: Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia. Exotic islands, too. Wherever I go, I'm struck by one undeniable trut...
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